Yet another Capitol Hill paving project: Volunteer Park’s stone parking plaza needs repair

Speaking of paving projects and making safer streets around Volunteer Park, the landmark city green space has a near $100,000 paving project of its own to get to.

With the park reopened to traffic following closures to allow for more pedestrians bicycling space during the height of the COVID-19 restrictions, city parks planners say the plaza parking area in front of the Seattle Asian Art Museum is in dire need of repair:

The existing stone within Volunteer Park Drive was installed in 1975 based on drawings by Richard Haag as an extension of the paving at the steps and entry to the Museum. Appoximately 230 sf of stone pavers in the primary vehicle path were replaced with concrete previously (believed to be at least 10-15 years ago). Approximately 410 sf of the remaining stone in the primary vehicle drive area has failed and needs to be replaced. Together, the 640 sf of previously failed and currently failed stone represents 33% of all stonework within the primary vehicle drive area (1950 sf total).

A project to replace the plaza’s cracking stones was recently brought in front of the city’s landmarks review board. The body will need to sign off on the project within the protected confines of the more than 100-year-old park. Continue reading

With 2021 Pride celebrations put on hold, Volunteer Park hosting All Together Now ‘LGBTQIA+ fall celebration’

This year’s Volunteer Park Pride Festival was canceled due to the coronavirus

We saw what a Labor Day celebration of Pride looked like on Broadway last month. Seattle’s response to pandemic delays and postponements will continue this weekend with a special October Pride gathering in Volunteer Park.

Seattle Pride, organizer of the annual downtown parade and celebration as well as the yearly gathering for fun and music in Volunteer Park each June, is bringing its communities together in the park for a special All Together Now event this October Saturday:

Headlining this year’s event is Seattle-based producer, DJ, and artist Chong the Nomad, and will be hosted by KEXP-on air host Marco Collins and drag queen favorite Betty Wetter. The event will also feature food trucks, alcohol garden, Drag Queen Bingo, 360-degree photo booth, and a variety of other activities.

The LGBTQIA+ fall celebration is free to attend and will feature performers, activities, food, drink, and more. It will take place on the large lawn in front of the park’s conservatory near the dahlia garden from 3 to 7 PM — rain or shine. Continue reading

Sad about the return of Seattle rain? Imagine 25,000 daffodils in Volunteer Park

(Image: Volunteer Park Trust)

(Image: Volunteer Park Trust)

If this weekend’s sudden arrival of fall rains has you down, maybe the thought of 25,000 daffodil bulbs blooming in Volunteer Park can help get you through to spring.

The Volunteer Park Trust is planning a massive daffodil planting party in a few weeks to honor a longtime volunteer and lay the groundwork for a beautiful burst of yellow: Continue reading

Remember those 13th Ave E trees? City sticks to removal plans for sidewalk improvements

(Image: CHS)

With reporting by Ryan Packer

A neighborhood fight to save two 40-foot-tall Norway Maples in the planting strip along Capitol Hill’s leafy 13th Ave E will end with the city deciding to stick to its plans for removal despite taking “a second and third look” at the situation, according to an email from the Seattle Department of Transportation.

CHS reported here on the argument from a group of neighbors and arboreal advocates trying to save the trees that the city said needed to be removed to make way for sidewalk and curb improvements part of redevelopment and construction of new townhouses on the street.

“Despite the follow up step to involve SDOT Engineers in additional Divisions to look with fresh eyes for other options, SDOT has made the determination to allow the removal of these trees,” an email sent Thursday by the city reads: Continue reading

A visit to the new Volunteer Park Cafe, carrying on the tradition of ‘a cozy corner spot’ on Capitol Hill

You might think, with Canlis alums and a Yakima winery owner as the new creative forces behind the neighborhood favorite, the new Volunteer Park Cafe would have three-star, four-course ambitions.

It’s a much softer affair.

“I’m just hanging out, doing my thing, trying to make a beautiful space for people,” Melissa Johnson tells CHS about the cafe that has reopened under new ownership and with an overhaul of the 1904-built cornershop house at 17th and Galer.

Baker Johnson and pastry chef Crystal Chiu have teamed up to create a new vision of the neighborhood cafe — “a fresh start,” Johnson says, “bountiful, and bright, and ever-changing.” Continue reading

Offensive plaque removed from Volunteer Park — Meanwhile, conservatory and water tower set to reopen after COVID closures

Thanks to a CHS reader for this picture of the plaque-less stone

An offensive — and inaccurate —  plaque installed in Volunteer Park in the 1950s that came under new scrutiny amid increased anti-Asian hate during the pandemic has been quietly removed. Meanwhile, two much-loved features of the popular North Capitol Hill park are reopening, the Seattle Parks Department says.

A spokesperson Tuesday confirmed that last week’s removal of the plaque near the Seattle Asian Art Museum along the traffic circle surrounding the park’s iconic water tower was performed by the city and not vandalism. Many readers sent CHS pictures and notes last week of the empty large stone left behind where the plaque was once affixed but it wasn’t clear who had removed the bronze plate. Last year, vandals finally put to rest years of controversy after they toppled and permanently destroyed a Confederate monument in neighboring Lakeview Cemetery.

The Volunteer Park plaque, instead, was removed by Seattle Parks in consultation with community groups, the Seattle Parks spokesperson said. Continue reading

Attention Seattle fisherfolk: There are no fish in the Volunteer Park Reservoir

(Image: Volunteer Park Trust)

Bogus reports from Fishbrain

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. That is probably not news. And the idea that people have fun by posting bogus information on the web and fake reviews? Also not new.

Finding a couple of confused fishermen carrying fishing poles and a box of new lures in search of reported smallmouth bass in the middle of Capitol Hill? That’s a CHS blog post.

You might not be surprised that jokers are using online fishing community Fishbrain to have a few laughs posting trip reports for Capitol Hill bodies of water including the 22 million gallons in the Volunteer Park Reservoir.

But CHS was surprised — and felt sorry to be the bearer of bad news — for two would-be fishermen wandering around the road below the barbed wire fences of the Volunteer Park reservoir looking for an entrance after seeing a catch report from user mindy.a showing a smallmouth bass reportedly caught in the off-limits Seattle Public Utilities facility. Continue reading

Overhauled Volunteer Park Cafe — and Pantry — reopens on Capitol Hill

(Image: CHS)

The spirit of Groucho’s lives on at 17th and Galer. The Volunteer Park Cafe is open again on Capitol Hill.

Melissa Johnson and Crystal Chiu are so busy in the overhauled kitchen and the cases are so full that they have barely had time to update the website or post operating hours. Those things will come.

UPDATE: “Now that the cat’s out of the bag, will we see you this weekend? We’ll be here with pastries, snacks and drinks galore (wine pours by the glass included 🍷) and AC,” the cafe’s latest update to Instagram reads.

For now, the Canlis veterans are learning the ropes of operating this new iteration of the neighborhood favorite. VPC is now the Volunteer Park Cafe and Pantry, a nod to aspirations to revive more of the cornershop spirit of one of the last spaces of its kind in a city that used to be a little more mixed in its “Neighborhood Residential” uses.

Restarting that history has been a chore. James DeSarno, principal at D3 Architects and co-owner of the Freehand Cellars winery, purchased the 1904-built, two-story market and apartment on this corner of northern Capitol Hill’s single family-dominated residential zone in a $1.4 million deal that was in the works for months after a previous plan to purchase the property fell through. DeSarno said his plan for VPC was to try to keep a good deal of the relationship with the neighborhood in place with cafe and coffee offerings but add a renewed focus on wine featuring his Yakima Valley winery’s creations.

For its start, the Volunteer Park Cafe is focused on daytime offerings and its pastry case along with a well-stocked selection of bottled libations. Continue reading

Alice in Wonderland, in person and outside this weekend in Volunteer Park

As we step into the curiouser and curiouser world of the pandemic reopening, finding ways to experience the transitions at your own pace is key. Starting Thursday, you can enjoy live theater performance again on Capitol Hill — outside in Volunteer Park.

Running July 29th through August 1st and again August 5th through 7th, Seattle’s Theatre22 is bringing Alice in Wonderland to the park’s grassy area north of the Seattle Asian Art Museum:

Alice in Wonderland
Theatre22 presents “an Alice for our time” as we journey down the rabbit hole into a topsy-turvy world where rules keep changing, time is fluid and power equals corruption. This contemporary, genre-bending adaptation combines the original beloved characters with song, dance, puppetry, and whimsical wordplay in an imaginative, hilarious, and outrageous interpretation with something for everyone.

DIRECTED by Julie Beckman and Jasmine Lomax

July 29 – Aug 1 Thurs – Sun 7pm

Aug 5 – Aug 7 Thurs – Sat 7pm

VOLUNTEER PARK  lawn north of the museum

The company’s performances are free with donations welcomed after the show. The performances are sponsored by the Washington State Arts Commission, the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and King County’s 4 Culture.

The performances come as construction continues on the park’s new $3 million amphitheater with a roof, storage and green room space, all-gender bathrooms, upgraded electrical access, and “a resilient floor that will even accommodate dance performances.” Construction is us expected to be completed this fall.


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Agreement on Bordeaux House — the latest landmark on Capitol Hill’s Millionaire’s Row — comes before city council

The Seattle City Council is poised to put a final stamp of approval on making a corner of Capitol Hill’s Millionaire’s Row an official city protected landmark.

The council’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee on Wednesday will take up legislation to place protective controls on the Thomas and Sarah Esther Bordeaux House at the corner of 14th Ave E and E Valley.

The restrictions on the historic property in the landmarks agreement “apply to the site, the building exterior, and a small portion of the interior, but do not apply to any in– kind maintenance or repairs of the designated features,” the council’s summary of the bill notes. Continue reading